From 1 January 2013, new Gas Safety guidance has been brought in to deal with ‘hidden’ flues. Basically if you let your property and your boiler is not connected to an outside wall you may be affected by these changes.
Flats and apartments are mainly affected by this change but sometimes freehold properties with extensions contain hidden flues that run through voids in buildings. In any case these have been found to leak and can cause carbon monoxide to be released into the property.
The new guidance requires inspection hatches to be fitted so that flues are able to be inspected as part of the gas safety inspection process. Gas safety engineers will now declare the flue at risk from 1 January 2013 if the hatches have not been fitted and, after asking the householder’s consent, will turn the system off and formally advise landlords not to use the boiler until hatches have been fitted at the appropriate places. If this happens the tenant may be able to withhold rent and/or make a disrepair claim against the Landlord.
It is the landlord’s responsibility to make sure that hatches are fitted. The hatches need to be a minimum of 300mm square and within 1.5m of a join in the flue – how many are needed will depend on the length of the flue.
But opening up a part of the property may also open up a can of worms when you sell so make sure this work is carried out correctly. In particular check:
- In a leasehold flat such changes may need the consent of the superior landlord/freeholder depending on the terms of the lease which will need to be considered carefully.
- In either case building regulations approval may also be required as the plasterboard around the flue may have been designed to provide fire protection; it may also provide acoustic/noise protection. The hatches that will be fitted may need to be fire rated to suit the property.
A further warning – the Heath and Safety Executive have indicates that further restrictions on this type of flue could be expecting in the future with an indication that they may not be acceptable at all, whether or not they have an inspection hatch fitted.
This is another cost which will fall on the residential landlord but given that it involves the safety of tenants it is something that is unavoidable.
For further information on buying or selling tenanted property / buy to lets call Mark Sadler on 01708 757575 or email: email@example.com